Universal Design Consultants

Access Central, accessibility and universal design consultants in the built environment.

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We consult in the areas of inclusive design, liveable housing, accessibility and DDA compliance, as well as in best-practice universal design principles.

Our clients get sound advice in how to provide barrier-free access so all members of society can have equal access to premises, education, transportation, accommodation, goods and services.

Contact us for more information.

Universal Design: Beyond Access

At Access Central, we agree with the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland, in that the term ‘Universal Design’ has continually been used incorrectly as a synonym for compliance with accessibility design standards.

The two areas differ greatly:

  1. Equal rights and disability legislation prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability;
  2. Accessibility design standards provide a minimum level of compliance with applicable legislation.

Whilst universal design is much more than achieving a minimum level of access. Complying with the minimum access provisions is, unfortunately, a box ticking exercise as part of a building approval in many cases.

Universal Design is also much more than considering people with disability.

There are two key factors when considering Universal Design:

  • It is not just applicable to the needs of people with disabilities, but everyone, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability; and
  • Universal Design is not a list of specifications, but an approach to design that considers the varied abilities of users.

Contact Access Central to learn more about how we can help your project provide a better outcome for everyone.

Access Central

Access Central is a boutique consulting firm offering specialised services in accessibility, DDA legislation, universal design, access audits, insurance investigations, risk mitigation, expert witness statements, performance-based building codes and compliance.

Access Central, creating change, shifting attitudes

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Established in Melbourne, Australia with local and international experience.

Servicing clients across every State and Territory in Australia and overseas.

Experienced and Qualified. 

Confidential, Trusted, Reputable and Knowledgeable.

Key technical staff are qualified in risk management, building surveying, construction management and have completed the performance-based building and fire codes Graduate Certificate course at Victoria University. Furthermore, they hold accredited membership with the Association in Access Australia and are Chartered Building Engineers.

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Universal Design Reviews

Access Central, Universal Design Consultants can complete universal design reviews for all projects.

When we undertake a universal design assessment of any commercial premises, we consider the following requirements:

  1. The minimum accessibility requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume 1 (part of the National Construction Code) and all referenced technical standards. This is adopted at State and Territory level into building legislation and are mandatory requirements for new building works.
  2. The minimum accessibility requirements of the Access Code, being Schedule 1 in the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010, also referred to as the Premises Standards. The Access Code has been prepared by the Office of the Australian Building Codes Board and is based on provisions of the BCA. The Premises Standards is a Disability Standard released under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and the requirements outlined in the Access Code are mandatory requirements for new building works requiring a building permit or approval.
  3. Australian best practice concepts including those accessibility standards that have not been adopted into the BCA or Premises Standards prescriptive requirements, which could include other standards from the AS 1428 Australian Standards suite.
  4. International best practice concepts including accessibility standards, universal design guides, and disability legislation.
  5. Fire engineering principles, in that the use of the building, occupant characteristics, their age and abilities all form important factors into the design of the building. Universal design considers the vast spectrum of human abilities and aims to ensure that all buildings are accessible and usable by everyone, regardless of a person’s size, age, language skills, or abilities.

Our reports will clearly identify what is a mandatory requirement, and what is a best practice recommendation to provide for everyone and reduce the risk of DDA complaints, marginalising some building users or introducing barriers to the use of the building, facilities or services offered within the built environment.

A gentlemen pushing a lady in a wheelchair past a shop that has two steps and a sign in the window saying NO DOGS

Allowing Access Central the opportunity to review a design of a space, building, or public assembly area could help provide a safer, more usable and more enjoyable environment for everyone. Universal design concepts introduced in early stages of a project could, in fact, be cost neutral to the project.

Contact us for more information.

Why do we need Universal Design?

Universal design is a design movement that is steadily growing as awareness increases.

At the end of the 20th century, the world is very different than 100 years ago. People are living longer and surviving better. Potential consumers of design who may be functionally limited by age or disability are increasing at a dramatic rate. These populations are no longer an insignificant or silent minority.

The current generation of children, baby boomers entering middle age, older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals inconvenienced by circumstance, constitute a market majority. All of these constituencies and indeed, all consumers, deserve to be recognized and respected. Facilities, devices, services, and programs must be designed to serve an increasingly diverse clientele.

The demographic, legislative, economic, and social changes that brought us to this point are increasing the momentum that will propel us into a 21st century that will need to be more accommodating of individual differences. Universal design provides a blueprint for maximum inclusion of all people.